For Immediate Release
July 12, 2017
Christina Vilbert, Hamilton Strategies, 610.584.1096, [email protected], or Deborah Hamilton, 215.815.7716, 610.584.1096, ext. 102
As Vote on Maine Female Genital Mutilation Approaches, Citizens Call Out Lawmakers to Protect Women and Girls
Maine Citizens Urge House Members to Pass L.D. 745, Which Makes Horrific Acts on Girls and Women a Crime; #ENDFGMTODAY
Washington, D.C.—The vote on legislation that would make female genital mutilation (FGM) in Maine a crime could happen as early as July 20. Maine citizens are being urged now to join the sponsor of L.D. 745, State Rep. Heather Sirocki, contact their representatives in Augusta and press them to pass this bill to protect girls and women from such a barbaric and abusive practice.
State lawmakers could vote as early as Veto Day (July 20) on the bill. If passed, Maine would join 24 other states that already have similar statutes on their books.
But Democratic lawmakers, especially, are waffling on voting for the bill. Sirocki and the bill’s other supporters are urging all Maine residents to contact the offices of these lawmakers and implore them to vote “yes” on L.D. 745.
Sirocki said the State Senate has indicated it will amend the bill once more, then the House could bring a vote forward next week.
She added that citizens can reach out to Senate President Michael Thibodeau and urge him to retrieve the bill from the “dead file” and adopt Sen. Joyce Maker’s newest amendment. Reaching out to Speaker of the House Sara Gideon and other Democrat members of the House to urge support will also help make the law become reality, Sirocki said. Find contact information for House members by district here.
Public contact information for Senate President Michael Thibodeau
- Email: [email protected]
- State House office Phone / Senate President’s Office: (207) 287-1500
Public contact information for Speaker of the House Sara Gideon
- Email: [email protected]
- Business phone: (207) 287-1300
- State House message phone: (800) 423-2900
Previously, the Maine Senate overwhelmingly voted to approve a ban on female genital mutilation, but the Maine House narrowly rejected a similar bill. The revised bill is back with the Senate for a potential vote and is expected to pass again. If the bill returns to the House, Sirocki will talk to her peers about her commitment to the issue.
“This bill has been close to my heart for months,” Sirocki said. “Maine has already been identified as one of eight high-risk locations in the country, and an education and outreach program has been established through the federal government. My bill does not abandon that outreach program. My bill is an addition to it. The bill’s intent was simply a prohibition of child abuse, and it could serve as a deterrent.
“We could be and we should be sending a strong message to the affected communities that female genital mutilation is not legal in Maine. Period,” she continued. “State prosecutors need state laws. I urge your support of this amended bill that combines both a state prohibition and also an additional state-run education/preventative outreach program.
Sirocki added that her fellow lawmakers are using excuses for not voting for the bill, including that current laws already cover the abuse and that the practice is not happening in Maine.
“For those who remain unconvinced that this is happening here, I ask, ‘What harm is there in passing a law that is never used?’ I also ask, ‘What if it saves one little girl from experiencing the pain and suffering from this horrific crime?’ I hate the thought of little girls, living in our midst that may be subjected to this painful form of child abuse and assault. These little girls need our help. Please set your differences with me aside and help them.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than half a million girls and women in America have already been subjected to such mutilation—or are at risk of having it inflicted upon them. Reportedly, some of them live in the state of Maine.
“Advocates for girls and women here in the U.S. are calling for Maine lawmakers to #EndFGMToday and urging legislators to pass L.D. 745,” said Elizabeth Yore, head of a new initiative, End FGM Today. “Female genital mutilation is child abuse and an abomination for all those afflicted by it. Some seek to defend the mutilating of little girls by claiming that this cruel disfiguring must be allowed in America as a form of ‘religious practice.’ Legislators in Maine have an opportunity to establish unmistakably that no little girl living in their state can be maimed for any reason.”
Yore added that three individuals in Michigan were recently arrested for allegedly mutilating two 7-year-old Somali immigrant girls. These suspects are reportedly the tip of the iceberg when it comes to those yet to be identified, charged and prosecuted.
“It is simply intolerable that half the states in this nation, including Maine, still do not have laws protecting girls and women from this ghastly, involuntary disfiguring,” Yore added. “Hopefully, that will soon change.”
Learn more at www.EndFGMToday.com and on social media at #EndFGMToday about FGM and efforts underway in the U.S. to stop it.
To interview a representative on this topic, contact Beth Harrison at 610-584-1096, x104, [email protected], or Deborah Hamilton at 215-815-7716 or 610-584-1096, x102.